Every Friday at Spies & Assassins someone leads a learning session we call Spies Junction. This can be on any wide array of topics from sketching storyboards to lock picking. I mean we have to live up to our name from time to time! My contribution so far has been a course on photography.
I led a primer on a full photography workflow, Photography 101. Just enough to get someone started setting up the camera and exposing images themselves. Then once they have their image the ability to edit and share the image. How I went about doing live demos is explained further below.
So a 30 day challenge took me 49 days to actually complete. This turned into less of take a photo every single day. It evolved into create a body of work that I am proud of; 30 rock solid images (I speak more about why I'm ok with this here). This was one of the best things I've done for my photography yet. Read more
So I have looked for and tested out a few apps for geotagging photos. I liked the capability of some but I already use an app to track my walks, runs and bike rides. So, why introduce another app? Often these apps will also need a companion app on your computer to actually connect the GPS data to any images taken. If the app you use for fitness tracking has GPS capabilities and the ability to download a .gpx file then that is all you need. I personally use Strava which allows me to download a .gpx file through their website. The downside of a fitness app is they typically use more battery on your phone because the location information is more accurate. Most dedicated geotagging apps ping your location at set intervals (i.e. every 30 seconds) to reduce battery usage.
I'm very excited to announce that my new site is live. Full redesigned to be simple and showcase my photographic work. I did have some help though. A big shout out to Bryan Moreno who worked on the identity and logo. Chase Farnum also helped me find the necessary tools to make this site which is built on WordPress look wonderful! As you are already here I won't say much more. Enjoy!
So I've made it beyond the halfway point of my 30 day challenge but have not been shooting every single day. I was out everyday for the first 10 days but did not walk away with keeper images from each day. If undertaking a similar challenge yourself do not let this be discouraging. There is always value in getting out and going through the process of capturing images and practicing the craft. Also, whenever life always takes precedence over taking images so when opportunities to be with friends and family arise take them. I rode my bike a bunch in the past three weeks and was able to take some decent photos along the way with my phone. Even when using an iPhone go through the same photographic process of working a shot and great images can still be made.
In the past two months I've put a lot more effort into shooting more regularly and sharing those images. I started by revitalizing my Flickr which is where the largest collection of my images lives. In these two months I have grown my following from about 100 followers to over 13 thousand using the technique in the first item below. With the increased exposure one of my more recent photos has made the explore page getting even more exposure. A popular challenge on flickr is the 365 project which inspired me to do a shorter 30 day challenge. So here are some of the important take aways I've learned from these past few months.
I have been getting a big response to my photos on Flickr recently and with my 30 Day Challenge underway I've noticed a flaw in how Flickr/Lightroom don't play to well together. My workflow is typically edit an image in Lightroom and publish it to Flickr via my photostream in Lightroom then post to instagram and then add titles, tags and description on flickr and publish to the public there. So the issue I have ran into is that if Lightroom thinks any change has been made to a photo that is already on Flickr and public it will republish it and my settings are to publish as private to Flickr so I can then add titles and descriptions as I wish. So when a photo gets republished and made private all the favorites on that photo are lost. Losing those will prevent images that may have been on their way to making the explore page ineligible and in some cases I have had this happen even when I haven't made any modifications to a photo. Super frustrating.
The quick solve to this problem is setting the privacy of the photos on publish to be public. I personally don't feel comfortable doing that as I upload multiple versions/crops to Flickr for Instagram. Also the title and description can be set in the metadata of the file in Lightroom but sometimes that will change based on the audience. If that information is then changed on flickr that might pull Flickr and Lightroom out of sync and cause an unnecessary re-upload. The sure-fire way of avoiding this is to just export photos to disk and then upload those to Flickr separately. Then edit titles, descriptions, etc. on Flickr and per your audience based on the network your uploading it to (Flickr, 500px, Instagram, Facebook, etc.). So that is how I am going to proceed to prevent this from happening in the future. I though initially it was a hickup because one of my files didn't save but that same file republished again when trying to publish just one new photo again even after no changes on the Lightroom side of the fence.
With the warm weather upon us... Wait. No, it's still absolutely freezing in NYC. Anyway with more daylight at least in the evenings I have decided to begin 30 days of shooting daily. I am doing this not to take away images but to get into the mindset of going out and shooting more frequently and to practice the craft both technically and creatively. Working scene by scene one shot at a time paying attention to composition and light.
Each day I am going to post an image from the prior day regardless of whether or not I would share it normally. This will make me focus more on working shots to get better results. My fear is that on some days I won't take the time to produce a good image which defeats the whole purpose of this exercise. The primary focus for a challenge like this is for personal growth not to come away with stunning images every day. So a huge part of this process is the reflection and review of images and self critiquing what could make images stronger.
I took my first stab at shooting stars while spending a weekend in Vermont to do some snowboarding. We arrived in a town just outside of Killington on a crisp and very cold night. Ideal conditions and a clear sky for some star shots. For my first attempt I would have preferred it be a little warmer then the -12 degrees fahrenheit. Besides that there are a few things I learned from the experience.
When an opportunity to try a new photographic experience presents itself take it! In my case where I live in NYC it is impossible to get clear shots of the stars because of all of the light pollution. So even though it was in the negatives the crystal clear sky could not be passed up.
The second takeaway is that at night the viewfinder isn't going to do anything. To compose a shot will require taking shots and recomposing based on what is seen on the screen. I cranked up my ISO when taking these shots to reduce the shutter speed for the test shots so I could quickly recompose and get on with the shoot.
Third, bring a flashlight/headlamp and a shutter release. The buttons on your camera will be very hard to see and they were very difficult to press in the cold. Also for time savings you can cut two seconds if using self-timer to prevent camera shake. That 2 seconds can seem very long in the cold. One more camera related thing in the cold is that battery performance will be robbed significantly so bring spares.
I wasn't expecting to come away with any images my first time out but I was delightfully wrong in that assumption. Just get out there and see how it goes!